Heroes of Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is over but the recovery and repair go on. Luckily, up in our neck of the woods (north of Durham) we only sustained wind and torrential rains causing temporary flooding. South of Raleigh and the coastline is a totally different ball game.

Tragically, there were several deaths related to Florence and millions in property and harvest damage. However, as with any emergency, the heroes come out in force.

Hurricane Florence first responders

First responders praying after finding mother & infant dead from tree falling on their house.

Below is only a sampling of such heroes but I wanted all of them to know how much they mean to us.

  • Rescuers saving 6 dogs abandoned in locked cages while flood waters rise (Leland, NC)
  • Amber Hersel who drove all the way from Indiana to help with Florence’s rescues.
Hurricane Florence heroes

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Chef Jose’ Andres’ led a hot food drive in Wilmington with a kitchen full of volunteers delivering meals to shelters.
  • Tony Alsop of Tennessee rescued 53 dogs and 11 cats, transporting them to shelters in his old school bus “Noah’s Ark.” Same as he did in Texas in 2017.


Hurricane Florence heroes

(Courtesy of Washington Post)

  • The Louisiana Cajun Navy rescued people and pets with their fleet of boats. (To learn more of this volunteer rescue squad and their deeds, check out their website: Cajun Navy Relief )
  • All the people who helped at the shelters with food, blankets, compassion and prayers. Hurricane Florence shelter

Seeing people opening their hearts and homes to those in need really restores your faith in humanity and Christians. Thank you and remember to help others, because you never know when you will need help.

If you know of other heroes, please add them to the comments so we can all enjoy them.




Getting Ready For Hurricane Florence…

Two years ago, my husband and I relocated to North Carolina. I am absolutely loving the warmer, sunnier climate compared to decades of brutal winters in my home state of Pennsylvania.


Hurricane Florence

This is the first hurricane to truly impact us (about 2-3 hrs from the coast).

We bought batteries, water, food and cat supplies…

We put away our outdoor furniture, took down my wind chimes and flags…

And I have plenty of books to read if we lose power…

So, if I’m offline for a few days you will know what is going on.

Please pray for everyone along the coastline who will be impacted directly. Be safe – evacuate.


We’ve Discovered Eno River State Park!

After spending the first two days of Labor Day weekend working around in the yard of our new house, I wanted to have a picnic on Labor Day. Being new to the area, I browsed around on the Internet for parks and lakes nearby. There were a handful to choose from but I was surprised that the main one (and probably the biggest one) I wanted to visit was closed for the holiday.

Closed sign

What? A park and lake closed on one of the biggest holidays of the summer?

This is the first I’ve encountered this set back. I don’t know if they’ve always done this or if it is something new due to budget restraints.

Oh well, it all turned out great because we went to my next choice and had a great time.

Eno River State Park is just outside of Durham, North Carolina.

Eno River State Park

Sorry this is a little blurry. I took it on the drive by.

Eno River State Park has thirty miles of hiking trails, picnic facilities, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and back country camping.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. We ate our picnic of pasta salad and chips & dip while people watching. I love to people watch. Occupational hazard I guess, being a writer 🙂 Then we hiked down to the Eno River.

Eno River

There were a lot of kids and dogs enjoying the water, but I try not to take photos with people who might not want to be photographed. This photo was taken a little farther down the river.

swinging bridge

There was a great swinging bridge that crossed the river. I love these types of bridges. They’re like an amusement park ride when you’re trying to walk on a surface that is moving. This bridge received a lot of traffic and it was funny watching people’s reactions.

swinging bridge

Here’s my husband posing for the camera.

hurricane sign

This sign is posted on one of the supports for the swinging bridge. If you can’t read it, it says that the river had risen to the bottom of the sign during Hurricane Fran on Sept 6, 1996. Now, look at how high the sign is…

Hurricane sign

You can see these guys walking under the bridge and the sign is at least another 6 or 7 feet higher! Whew!

All in all, a wonderful Labor Day in the woods.

Do you like swinging bridges or not? Let me know…

Here’s a few more of my North Carolina posts:

The Thrill of a New House

Bonsai Expo at Duke Gardens

Relax At The Zoo To Help Conquer Stress

What Do The Mountains Say To You?

The Thrill Of A New House

Moving. Definitely not something to take lightly. All the preparation. The stress…

Purchasing and scrounging around at stores for enough boxes to pack all the things you think you can’t live without.

Living in and out of boxes until everything is packed up.

living out of boxes

Arranging the move with a moving company. Securing cats for moving day and trying not to traumatize them.

Dealing with the mixed feelings of leaving your previous residence.

Arriving at your new home and being overwhelmed by all your stuff and boxes. How is all this going to fit?? Why did I bring so much??

boxes to unpack

Although the cats see the move as a new jungle adventure.

cat on a mattress

But then, as you begin to work your way through the mountain of boxes…something happens.

It begins to feel like a home. Your home.

You hang up curtains in the living room. Set out a few houseplants to bring life into the rooms and hang a Welcome sign on your front door.

living room

cow bell

This cow bell hung on the front porch railing of our last house for 20+ years. As soon as we hung it on our new front porch, it felt like home.

bird feeder

Things turn exciting and fun, decorating your new home. Of course, if you’ve down-sized like us, you have to sift through all your  ‘things’ and decide what you’re keeping and what you’re donating.

It can also be fun to pick some new things for the house, to start a new chapter in your life.

We still have boxes and too much stuff, but I’m right where I want to be and am thrilled with my new house.


What were your experiences moving into a new place? Did you hate it or love it? Would you do it again?

How To Feng Shui A New Home

If anyone else is in the same boat as we are, moving into a new home, these Feng Shui tips could help make the transition smoother.  Feng Shui is all about balancing the energy in a room, house or office. Even if we aren’t aware of it, humans are influenced and affected by the arrangement of things and colors around us.


To learn more about Feng Shui, try these sites:

To Feng Shui your new home:

  1. Clean the house, inside and out. Everyone would do well to start living in a clean environment. Open the windows to let fresh air throughout the house for at least nine minutes to clear out any negativity.
  2. Orange Essential Oil. Sprinkle, diffuse or spray a little orange essential oil throughout the house to encourage positivism.  essential oils
  3. Bless or Dedicate the house. This can range from having your pastor or priest come and bless the house to you going clockwise room to room and focusing on the happy memories you will create in your new house.
  4. Pay particular attention to the kitchen. A good, strong kitchen will ensure health and happiness for all who live or visit the house. Add a few fresh herb plants, keep a fruit bowl filled with fresh, colorful fruit on the table and keep the kitchen clean and bright.  kitchen

These tips will get you started. If you’re interested in tips on arranging furniture, you can visit these sites:

or read some of my past posts:

Feng Shui for Summer

Feng Shui Animals

If you have any other new house tips, I’d love to hear them.

tiny house

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is anticipation. Since 2016 saw us moving from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, I am definitely anticipating a few things for 2017.

A new rescue kitty (or two):


A new house with a sun room/screened-in porch and 2 car garage for my husband to tinker on his cars.

screened in porch

And finally, a book contract for my second novel: 2 Cats, a Bodyguard & an Heiress


Hope everyone gets what they are anticipating!

Click  to read Photo Challenge: How Do You Relax? 


What Do The Mountains Say To You?

Recently, we shot down to Durham, North Carolina to find a home to rent until we buy one.

Leaving our little hometown of North East, PA at 9:00 am we made good time straight down I79, through Pittsburgh and right into West Virginia. The sun was out and the temperature climbed, the farther south we went.

Welcome to WV


I love the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia. These mountains give scenic views, recreational fun (hiking, kayaking, rafting, camping, etc.) and valuable resources.

traveling through mountains


In Virginia, we went through two tunnels. I love tunnels! For me, they are scary and at the same time exciting. I imagine racing through the tunnel before the massive weight of the mountain above crushes us…


Eight hours from departing, we finally reached North Carolina! Our new state in a matter of weeks.

Welcome to NC

The first rest stop after crossing the Virginia/North Carolina border on I77 is a sight to behold. It is very shaded and beautifully landscaped with picnic tables inviting you to linger and stretch your legs.

NC rest stop

You also may see a variety of vehicles. Check this one out!


The mountains in North Carolina are pretty spectacular, too. My favorite has to be Stone Mountain with its dome of exposed granite.

Stone Mountain NC

Faraway view from highway

Stone Mountain State Park NC

Up close and personal from state park — *Correction* This is actually Pilot Mountain. Couldn’t get an up close photo of Stone Mountain.

On our way back, we had to drive through early morning fog.


The tunnel came up before we knew it because of the dense fog.

tunnel in the fog

And the rain in Pennsylvania gave us an awesome rainbow!



What a beautiful trip!

Has anyone else driven through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia or North Carolina? I’d love to hear about it.




Selling Your House is Like Picking Your Nose in Public

Currently, we are selling our house to be able to relocate south. This is the first time we’ve ever sold a house, so all this ‘fun’ is new to us. We’ve spent a couple months de-cluttering (see post Clutter: Where did it all come from? ), fixing minor tasks and updating (see post Giving our kitchen a makeover) and now we are in the selling phase.

for sale sign

There are so many decisions to be made:

  • Pick a realtor among hundreds of qualified people
  • Decide on a listing price after researching current market values and trends
  • Staging the house for photos
  • Deciding where to go with an indoor cat while the realtor shows your house to buyers 🙂

I never realized that selling your house would be like picking your nose in public. In other words: EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR BUSINESS. They not only know all about your finances, as regards the house and property, but they also get to walk through your home, peeking in your cabinets and closets.

That means no more hiding your grungy 1980 collection of Tupperware containers because you’re too cheap and lazy to buy new ones. And no more shoving clutter into your closets every time the in-laws should up. Your cabinets and closets must look as if you are a frugal and organized person, even if you are far from it 🙂


Then there’s the weeks of waiting, just waiting for that sweet offer. The waiting is frustrating, let me tell you. House buyers expect to find a house instantly perfect to suit them, right down to the wall color and lighting arrangement. That’s what Lowes and Home Depot are for people!

Anyone have any house selling tips for us?

Signed Pulling My Hair Out in Pennsylvania


Our Kitchen Makeover – Part 2

If you’ve been following my blog, you know we are pulling up roots and moving to North Carolina. My last post was on the first part of our weekend kitchen makeover, before putting the house on the market.  We had removed all the cabinet doors and hardware, then painted them a lighter shade, using Rust-Oleum’s kit for kitchen cabinets.

cabinet doors

If you haven’t read the first post, click Giving Our Kitchen a Makeover.

While the kitchen was torn apart, we also installed new counter tops.

counter top

Krissy striking a pose

Krissy striking a pose while keeping the counter top seam together.

Of course, unconnecting the sink produced a plumbing issue that had to be addressed with a new pipe and clamps.

Then it was time to put the dishwasher back in.

Jim peeking over the dishwasher.

Jim peeking over the dishwasher. If you hadn’t guessed, my job was mostly photographer and gopher 🙂

It had come out easily, but they had a bear of a time getting it back in and balanced.

I was able to put everything back into my cabinets, but had to wait three days before reattaching the doors, giving them time to cure. Otherwise, anytime you bumped them, the paint could dent or nick.

So, finally, here is the end result:




I think it looks pretty professional. (High five to John & Krissy, we couldn’t have done it without you!)

Here’s an up close view of the wood grain and new cabinet handles:


So even if you won’t be selling your house, you too, can spruce up your kitchen, for very little money.

Any one else remodeling? Care to share success stories or nightmares? Love to hear them.

Giving Our Kitchen a Makeover

Since we’re moving, we’re getting ready to put the house on the market. We’ve done some freshening and updating. It’s amazing what a little paint and polish can do to freshen a house. We live our busy lives with work and school activities then before we know it, five years have passed and that beautiful sea-foam green has faded to a boiled green bean water.

If you want to go farther than just fresh paint, you can update kitchens and bathrooms. According to several sources, the kitchen is the room that sells the house!


Be sure to check on the market value of your house before spending thousands on a new kitchen, to be sure you will get enough return on the investment. If you don’t want to go to that extent, you can freshen up a kitchen for far less money.

Our cabinets are oak in a dark stain, which I love, but apparently lighter stain cabinets are more popular these days. So, with the help of a kit from Rust-Oleum, and family, we repainted our cabinets.

my kitchen before

Excuse the mess, I had to snap this photo quickly before my husband began taking the doors off (even before I had put dishes away).


painting cabinets kit

Here is the kit we used. There are two versions, one for lighter cabinets and one for darker. Then they tint the paint to the color you choose.

The first step is to take off the cabinet doors and remove the drawers. Carefully take off the handles and hinges, clean and set aside if you will be reusing them.

kitchen without doors

Kitchen without doors

While your husband is cleaning the cabinets, you will have to empty the kitchen cabinets and counters. I crammed it all into the dining room and we lived out of bags and boxes for almost a week.

dining room

It’s best if you have lots of room to spread out the doors, so you can set up an assembly line and they can dry between steps. We set up saw horses and shelves in the garage. You use the cleaner (provided in the kit) to remove the dirt and grease that accumulates over the years. Don’t skimp on this step. The success of your painting depends largely on how clean you get your cabinets.

After cleaning the wood, you begin to paint. Usually, I get headaches from paint fumes but I was happily surprised that all the supplies in this kit have very little smell to them. You will do two coats of the paint, letting it dry 2-3 hours between coats. Buy good quality brushes or they will leave too many brush hairs behind.


cabinet doors

We chose River Birch to lighten our cabinets.


After the paint step, there is a glazer you can apply which will enhance the wood grain. Since our cabinets are oak with a beautiful wood grain we opted to use the glazer. You paint it on then wipe it off and the color remains in the wood grain. The longer you leave it on, the darker it will be. If you prefer just a painted look, without the wood grain, then skip this step.

The last step is a clear protector that seals and protects, giving the wood a slight shine. You have to let everything set for at least 48 hours before attaching the doors and drawers because the paint will be soft enough to nick and dent if you hit it while re-installing. We waited three days to be sure.

In the meantime, we replaced the counter top. Things went pretty smoothly up to this point 🙂 My next post will cover the rest of our kitchen makeover weekend.

Has anyone else refreshed their kitchen? What were your experiences?